UK Government to Launch Product Placement Probe

23 April 2008

LONDON: Product placement and its legal appearance on UK television screens is to come under scrutiny shortly as the government considers its response to European Union proposals for the loosening of regulations.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to launch a consultation in tandem with communications regulator Ofcom about product placement issues contained in the EU's Audiovisual Media Services directive, green lighted last year.

Ofcom's rules do not allow product integration in home-grown TV shows, and the DCMS does not have to follow the AVMS directive: "We are not compelled to do so - it is up to each member state to decide whether to change current rulings."

However, the TV and marketing industries are likely to lobby for changes.

Says Tess Alps, ceo of TV marketing body Thinkbox: "Clearly the UK would welcome a more level playing field. The fact is that we're all watching a lot of product placement, or product integration, in series imported from the US."

The basic EU conditions are that product placement must not have undue prominence within programming. Children's, documentary and news programmes would remain off-limits.

Comments Ross Biggam, the general director of the Brussels-based lobbyist, the Association of Commercial Television: "Brands should have the opportunity to use product placement. I think they, along with broadcasters and advertisers, are likely to proceed at a sensible pace.

"We're probably going to see a gradual evolution similar to what happened with sponsorship, rather than a big bang."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff